As you know, this blog is about starting a conversation. We sometimes post information from our membership on bills about which our Caucus has not taken an official opinion. Last night, one of our members, Juanita Kawamoto, asked me to post her concerns about SB667. Here is her letter, feel free to make a comment and join the conversation.
As Subcommittee Chairperson of Food and Farm Sustainability, I would like to reach out to our members and rally their support for one of the most core values we as American citizens have the opportunity to commit – Activism.
I truly believe HB 667 regarding Food Safety certification is one of those times when government is not acting in a transparent manner and has created a potential for serious problems not only for agribusiness for so many other levels of community sustainability.
HB 667 should be vetoed by Governor Neil Abecrombie because of the following reasons:
- The federal government is exempting small family farms who produce less than $500,000 per year in gross sales – This would account for a large portion of the small family farms in the State of Hawaii if a survey would be done.
2 To date, there have been no surveys, outreach or workshops offered to small family farmers who would qualify under the current proposed exemption.
3 The bill is like a blank check for the Department of Agriculture. There are no funds available through the State for the implementation of this bill, The only funding that could possibly appear would come from the Federal programs that are still debating who is responsible for Food Safety Certification – FDA or USDA.
4 The HB6667 is reactionary to potential guidelines that have not been defined clearly at the Federal level. How can we initiate any action when things are so vague and non transparent.
5 The current 3rd party inspection of small family farms and the coaching currently provided for fees that are costly to small family farms by the UH CTAHR have not provided relief to our small family farms but instead have created a non realistic , sterilized , laboratory environment which makes organic or natural farmers unable to pass the ridiculously stringent certification. The natural and organic farmer utilizes the ahupua’a and natural ecology to cultivate our food source and has done so since the first Hawaiian landed in Hawaii.
(I believe if this program existed when the Hawaiian Mahi`ai first planted the first Kalo, the farmer would have had the Ali`i wage a war against the inspectors!)
Please help us keep small family farms alive and thriving, Veto HB 667.
Mahalo Nui Loa,